While Americans watched the horrifying details of the San Bernardino mass shooting unfold, Sweden, Korea, England and the rest of the world watched live along with us. Not only are our foreign neighbors just as opinionated as we are– many of them believe they can offer solutions to deter rising gun violence.
Though our gun control choices tend to garner blank stares from other developed nations, it wasn’t until December 2nd that media outlets across our own country began emphasizing that there had been 353 mass shootings in 2015, shocking everyone with a pulse. It’s like getting slapped with the reality that you are a raging alcoholic, when up until five minutes prior you swore up and down that you were just fine. Now you have to look at yourself in the mirror and admit in front of everyone that you have a serious problem. What followed this epiphany was the entire nation gathering to unite in the playing of one of America’s favorite past times– the blame game. The game ended in a draw with everyone looking equally exasperated and confused as Donald Trump threatened to shut off our internet.
According to the article “How to Stop Mass Shootings in America: Times Readers Respond” popular solutions to American gun violence include controlling the sales of bullets, encouraging more citizens to become trained gun owners, paying people full market value for turning in their guns, making it illegal to own an assault rifle or machine gun and teaching conflict resolution strategies in school. And for the curious American, we have websites like The Trace, “an interactive map of American gun violence” that allows you to enter your street address and find out how many people have been shot near you.
While American’s feel a strong urge to say “shut your face” when countries meddle in our affairs, the truth is that numerous countries, such as Australia and Britain, have had to deal with terrifying murder sprees which led them to take measures to protect their citizens as well. It makes sense to other nations, and many American’s that have traveled to these nations, that President Obama called for tighter gun control, including not allowing individuals on the “no fly” list to possess a gun of any sort.
During the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Georgiana, a police department employee, was working minutes from the scene. The Romanian born, American citizen recalls, “I was actually across the street buying coffee when the shooter was there. I knew something was very wrong … As soon I came back to the office I heard on the city scanner that we have an active shooter on Waterman Avenue at the county building. I received notification from my supervisor to call all of the units back to the city yard…Within a few minutes everything seems to be a war zone, 40 king helicopters and 4 or 5 news choppers were hovering just above us. I locked myself in the office and I turned off the light waiting for the rest of the team. I was really scared at that point.”
If you had any questions about how fast news travels, Georgiana goes on to explain, “Within the next few minutes, my phone started ringing. My mom from Romania [and] my best friend from Italy [called to ask if I was safe.] I received text messages from France and Romania also. This was within 5 minutes [of] the shooting.”
After being a part of this ordeal she explains, “…if the county employees had guns on them none of this would have happened and the a**holes would be dead before shooting so many people. I hope that the people will react for pro-gun [legislation] so we all have a fair chance to protect ourselves.”
In contrast, Anders Broberg, a naval architect from Havas, Sweden, watched the horror unfolding live over Swedish news channels more than 5,000 miles away. Though extremely rare, Sweden has suffered through mass homicides as well. Broberg explains why we don’t always receive sympathy from the international community when a tragedy unfolds. “I have a feeling that most people in Sweden don’t see it as an act of international terrorism but rather as another report of mass killing which we have learned to grow accustomed to from the U.S. Yes, Paris has had two serious acts of terrorism the last year, but the weapons used there were obtained illegally. In Sweden, we fail to understand the liberal gun laws in the U.S. We frequently read in the Swedish news about accidental US killings in homes or someone going crazy somewhere.” He went on to mention that just a few weeks prior, the teenage son of one of his friends was shot to death in a Houston suburb.
According to Broberg, “[Swedish people generally] believe that [we] would have a lot more killings if we had guns available in our stores the way you have them in the U.S…Our criminals don’t have any problems [getting] illegal guns, but we are convinced it would be much worse if anyone could buy a handgun when they felt like it.”
Firearm research from Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center produced statics which agree with Broberg. According to the research, more gun ownership equals more homicide.
Upon hearing of San Bernardino’s devastating mass murder, Chloe Pyun of Seoul, South Korea soberly replied, “I think if I lived in [the] U.S., I would be very scared to go outside because possession of a guns is legal.”
The opinion from South African, Attorney of Law, Pieter Muller, is that people have lost focus. “I think as a whole the situation is downplayed. A nonissue … takes center stage [such as] “gun control” and “immigration.” That’s like discussing climate change and global warming on the Titanic, while barreling down on an ice berg. It may have merit, but it’s not solving any of the problems at hand. In July 2012, the leader of ISIS made this declaration against the US, “Be ready … our war with you only began now.” So this is war…[and] fear [is] their weapon of choice. When people are afraid they tend to overreact and make bad choices ie. gun control… It’s an attack on how we as westerners live.”
Britain and Australia have had massive reforms to gun legislature as a result of mass killings that jolted their nation into action. These reforms are credited with reducing all instances of gun violence drastically. Peter Millar, an engineer from Edinburgh, Scotland had never heard of San Bernardino before the killing spree took place. “The story was [and] is big news over here…people in Scotland and the UK are disturbed and frightened by the events in San Bernardino. I would guess that people here will apportion some of the blame for the availability of fire arms in the U.S., to the general public — something I and many others find, frankly, bizarre. Regular street police don’t even carry guns in the UK.”
Clearly the international community cannot agree on a panacea for America’s conundrum. While it is obvious that there is no magic bullet for the problem of gun violence, there are several developed countries which had to admit that they had a similar problem, and chose to rehabilitate their laws to avoid relapses of terror. America—this is your intervention!